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Monday, November 2, 2015

Critical Report Calls Center of 'Community' Life "Stymied by Reality"

Hechinger Report:
The Story of Emeryville's Center of 'Community' Life a "Cautionary Tale"

A Columbia University educational equity nonprofit journalism group released a report this week on Emeryville's beleaguered Center of 'Community' Life (ECCL) and found the schools/city joint venture now being built on San Pablo Avenue "plagued by political controversy, financial wrangling and practical roadblocks".
The story, featured in the Hechinger Report is the first published outside of Emeryville, critical of the ECCL and includes citizen's concerns as opposed to simply posting administrator's glowing proclamations as has been the standard up until now.
Having noted that, Emery School Board President John Affeldt is quoted poo pooing citizen's concerns over the ECCL as those of a "vocal minority".  However, the report was written before last week's revelation directly countering Mr Affeldt's remarks from Emery School Superintendent that parental approval of the ECCL and its plan to close the existing elementary school is evenly split.  "It's fifty fifty" Superintendent John Rubio told attendees at the October 21st School Board meeting, information he said he had gleaned from a recent opinion poll of parents.
Mr Affeldt went on in the story to excitedly claim the ECCL was going to deliver "Emeryville's first library", an erroneous statement, at least if one believes the Emeryville City Council.  A majority of City Council members have repeatedly said over the years City Hall will not be funding a public library at the ECCL site and the only library to be built there will be the school library.

The report mainly centers on the problem with the ECCL site being too small, a finding also made by the State of California and an increasingly agitated base of parents arising from the fact that the School District has given them short shrift.

Here is the Hechinger Report on the Emeryville Center of 'Community' Life, dated November 2nd:

Hailed as a ‘bold vision,’ an innovative school plan hits roadblocks

Controversy over a California community center that would unite a school district and a city shows how popular ideas can lose favor once they are executed

EMERYVILLE, Calif. — The Emeryville Center of Community Life was supposed to be a slick, 150,000-square-foot community schools complex that would assist this city’s neediest students and their families by providing dental, mental health, and tutoring services on the same site where they attended school. It was first proposed more than a decade ago just as the community schools model was becoming increasingly popular.
In 2013, the National League of Cities hailed the Emeryville plan as a “bold vision.” It was also touted in a Fast Company article titled “This Is What It Looks Like When a School Becomes a Community Hub.”
But for folks here in this quirky swath of tech-start-ups, shopping malls and renovated artist studios, the citywide plan has proven to be less of a solution and more of cautionary tale, a lesson in how hard it can be to take a community schools dream and turn it into a workable reality, even when almost everyone likes the idea.
Emeryville’s small size — only two schools and fewer than 800 students — may not be typical of districts experimenting with the community schools idea. Many are in larger, more urban areas. But with the growing interest around the country in community schools, Emeryville’s problems are an important cautionary tale.

For the rest of the story please click HERE


  1. now here's a story that is dear to my heart.
    how did columbia university hear about eccl?

  2. here's a story dear to my heart. how/why did they do this story?